Meet our teachers!
Dulin's teachers are degreed, seasoned professionals with years of experience in the classroom who possess a special rapport with very young children. They not only meet but exceed the state licensing requirements for early childhood educators. Our parent Board of Directors is directly responsible for staffing and salary decisions.
Dulin teachers participate in yearly training and enrichment, confer regularly with a child-development specialist, and are First Aid- and CPR-certified.
Our teachers have a unique understanding of the importance of communication with parents, working alongside families to ensure that our children experience the best possible introduction to school during their years at Dulin. In fact, most our current teaching staff have also been Dulin Preschool parents!
Amanda Didonna, 3s Teacher
Amanda Di Donna knows this area and all it offers our children and their families. She can claim to be one of those rare souls, a born-in-D.C native, who grew up locally in Great Falls.
Her early work years include being a cable-TV producer, wall muralist, to substitute teaching for a number of Fairfax County Public schools. Her education includes art and illustration at Virginia Commonwealth University and a psychology degree from Mary Baldwin College. Her experience counts years of 24/7 real “lab time” at-home with two sons, ages 7 and 9. In addition, she has been a Cub Scout den leader, and an active parent volunteer at their school, Flint Hill Elementary in Vienna. She took a leadership role in organizing one of its fundraiser footraces and regularly heading the classroom instruction of “GRACE” art programs. Although, when all is said and done her favorite role has always been working with children. “I feel privileged to have the honor of making a difference in the education of all children. Preschool is the beginning of all that is yet to come.”
Jennifer Miller, 4s Teacher
Mrs. Miller has been teaching at Dulin Preschool since 2000. She received a degree in early-childhood education from Marymount University and taught for several years at Marymount's preschool and kindergarten, then at a Burke preschool.
Mrs. Miller enjoyed a three-year stint at home with her sons Brett and Dulin grad Joe during which time she became involved with a cooperative preschool and found she appreciated parental involvement in the classroom. A teaching position at Dulin ended up being a perfect fit! The Miller family, which includes husband Ray, the boys, and little sister Alison, lives in Falls Church.
Holly Russell, 3/4s Teacher and Director
Ms. Russell has been a part of the Dulin Community since 2002. She has been in varied teaching roles since becoming an assistant art teacher
at age 14. As the oldest of 8 children, she had many opportunities to try out new projects and ideas with her younger siblings. She loves working with young children and believes Dulin is an exceptional preschool because of its philosophy of developmentally appropriate play-based learning and emphasis on parental involvement.
Outside of Dulin, Ms. Russell's hobbies include photography, weight-lifting, reading, cooking, travelling, and spending as much time with family as possible.
Ms. Russell earned an undergraduate degree from The University of Virginia, where her emphases were fine arts, studio arts, vocal performance, child psychology, and English. Additionally, she holds a Master in Education degree from Marymount University. She enjoys learning, and pursues continued education in the areas of social and emotional child development, brain development, music therapy, cultural competence, and differences in abilities and learning styles. Often she finds that preschoolers, with their keen observation skills, have a lot to teach her!
Suzanne Updike, AM 2s and PM 2s Teacher
Suzanne has been involved with Dulin preschool for the past decade. Both of her sons graduated from Dulin. Suzanne taught the science classes at Dulin from 2002-2007; she also has served as a substitute and summer camp teacher. Suzanne has a masters degree in education. She enjoys reading, gardening, walking, and volunteering at a National Park Service insect lab. Suzanne is happy to be part of the youngest ones first experience with school. "I really like the co-op preschool model. Everyone benefits from the community that develops. We are still good friends with the families we met during our sons' years at Dulin."
Tina Spurlock, Aide
Our classroom assistant Tina Spurlock found Dulin in 2009 while looking for a cooperative preschool for her youngest son, Owen. She enjoyed cooping and substitute teaching there so much that she decided to stay on as assistant teacher after Owen graduated in 2011. Tina has an undergraduate degree in Child Development and a joint Law/Masters of Social Work degree. Before starting her family she was a child advocacy attorney. Tina spent several years as a stay at home mom after her first child was born. Now that all of her children are in full day school, she is glad to be back at work part-time. When not at Dulin or driving one of her children somewhere, Tina spends time reading, gardening, and exercising with dog Gracie. She lives in Fairfax with husband Matt, four children, and many pets.
Diane Rosenthal, Music Teacher
I've been making music with kids since the 1980s, when I was the Music Therapist at the Lab School of Washington. In the 90's, I started teaching piano, and continue to do that in my private studio in Vienna, VA. I also have been teaching music at the Vienna Tiny Tots Preschool since 2005. I taught for two years at Rock Spring Cooperative Preschool. In addition, I have sung in rock bands, and even got a chance to sing with Bruce Springsteen at the Stone Pony in 1989--a night I'll never forget!! My husband is a guitarist, so music is very much a part of our lives. We have an 11 year old son who is learning the saxophone. As you will soon find out, I get kids, and they get me. We will sing a variety of songs, both classics and new, and learn about our world through song and movement. I'm looking forward to meeting all of you and sharing my love of music with your children.
Jennifer Gradle, Science
A biology grad from University of North Carolina, Jennifer Gradle shares her love of nature with her own young children. In the fall of 2003, Jennifer volunteered in her son's preschool class with science lessons. The school invited her to become its enrichment teacher for science — and Science Wonders was born!
Today, Science Wonders programs are enjoyed by more than 200 children monthly, promoting curiosity and encouraging discovery of the natural world. Science Wonders programs are designed to encourage young children to discover and explore our wonderful world. Topics change monthly and may include a fun study of the seasons, rocks, or insects, to name a few. A teacher-led discussion opens the class, with opportunities for sharing and learning from one another.
A variety of objects, models, posters, and puppets are used to promote the young child's curiosity. A hands-on activity wraps up the 30-minute class with a project to take home. Each child receives a Science Wonders Highlight summarizing the class, providing an opportunity for parents and children to share Science Wonders together.